The heat of summer is upon us in most of the US. While it might be tempting to continue planting, the next optimum time to plant perennials and shrubs is fall. While you can plant at this time of year, plants can struggle and, during dry spells, can require lots of watering to stay healthy.
So what' a gardener to do besides maintenance chores like weeding, feeding and deadheading?
Here are 5 of my favorite gardening-related and relaxing things to do now the rush of Spring planting is over.
1. Visit Botanical Gardens
Touring botanical gardens is a great way to find inspiring ideas for your landscape. Some gardens also trial plants for growers and research groups, so these can be good places to find plants that are grown specifically to do well in the area you are visiting. This means that if you visit a local trial garden you can find plants that should do well for you in your garden. And if the plants are meant to do well in your area, this means less maintenance for you!
My all-time favorite garden to visit is Longwood Gardens here in Southeastern PA. Pictured above are the fountains at Longwood which are featured in a spectacular show. The property was originally a private estate owned by Pierre duPont, Before he died duPont created a foundation so that the property could be enjoyed by the public. Today. Longwood Gardens is a center to botanical education, research in sustainability, and a beautiful place to visit during all seasons. Since I live in this area, visiting can give me ideas for plants to try in my own yard.
But beware, it is easy to get overwhelmed here at Longwood or at any botanical garden since there is usually so much to see. Look to get inspiration in one area (like perennials or indoor plants for example) and then just enjoy your tour of the rest of the attractions. For more information events and tickets, visit their website at longwoodgardens.org
2. Get Outta Town
I love to find small towns that have enjoyed a resurgence in recent years. Downtown improvement area are everywhere as people work to revitalize shopping, art and restaurant districts. In most cases, businesses and residents are encouraged to do plantings and container gardens as part of the beautification project.
One of our favorite towns to visit is Frederick, MD. This town is steeped in Civil War History and has worked really hard to help local businesses flourish. And gardens and planters are definitely part of the effort. The photo above is of the gardens around the canal that runs through part of town.
Below is a trumpet vine decorating a fence around one of the many outdoor dining areas of a local restaurants.
And this swath of Echinacea at a park entrance was stunning.
3. Check Out Your Local Cooperative Extension
Every state has a land grant university. And they usually have a cooperative extension and/or a Master Gardener program. Many of these have demonstration gardens. These are great places to visit to find native plants and commercially available plants that will work great in your area. The goal of the Master Gardener Program is education so you should be able to find lots of good info at their office. And they may have workshops as well.
The photo below is of part of the Demo Garden at the cooperative extension where I spent 10 years working as a Master Gardener. This particular section highlighted plants that were native to our area.
During my time as a Master Gardener I worked on the annual bed at our office with a very good friend. We signed up to be part of Penn State’s Trail Garden program. This meant that we planted varieties of plants sent to us by Penn State and documented how well they did. The ones that did well were then recommended to area growers so that they would have plants that has the best chances to do well both for them and their customers.
Anyone could stop by our annual bed and see what we were trialing to get ideas. Check to see if your local cooperative extension is working on any programs such as this one.
4. Get Together with Your Fellow Gardeners
It’s always great to get ideas from other gardeners. So, create your own garden tour with a few of your friends. Visit their gardens and invite them to yours so everyone can admire each other's hard work. It’s great if you can find people with different interests. For example, maybe include someone who has a big vegetable garden, someone who does gardening in the shade, someone who loves containers, an herb gardening fan and someone who loves perennials.
Remember to keep this fun and relaxed - not formal and to cheer on everyone’s successes. I tend to get my best ideas from other gardeners and love to get a peek at what they've done.
One thing to note whether you are traveling to visit a formal garden or just stopping by a friend’s house, be sure to jot down the ideas and inspirations you get from your visits. It’s easy to think you’ll remember but with how hectic life can be I find my ideas are fleeting. Keep a journal of your adventures to refer to when you are doing your garden planning.
5. Be a Guest in Your Own Garden
With the rush of everyday life, it's easy to forget to slow down and enjoy what we have. I love for things to be special, even if it's just a quiet meal for my partner and I. So I like to mix up cocktails and mocktails with a simple appetizer for us to enjoy while he's grilling out on the deck. I like summer dinners to be easy so that we can relax and enjoy sitting on the deck, looking at the garden, and the wildlife in our backyard.
You've worked hard to create a beautiful garden space, so be sure take time to sit back, relax, and enjoy what you've created.
What's your favorite garden-related thing to do when you're not planting or weeding? Please share with us in the comments below - we'd love to hear from you.
I’m always thinking about plants to add or move in my various gardens. I also keep a notebook of plant performances and ones I might wish to eliminate in future years. I am a Penn State Master Gardener and always learning new things.